WE have consistently argued that a no-deal Brexit would be the worst possible scenario for the North-East. It would damage the region’s economy, place jobs right across the region at risk and jeopardise the supply of life-saving drugs and medicines to some of the most vulnerable in society.

However, while we will continue to urge MPs to do all they can to avoid exiting the European Union without a deal, we acknowledge that such a scenario can no longer be discounted. Therefore, we also urge businesses in the North-East and North Yorkshire to do all they can to prepare for the possible eventuality of no-deal.

Tuesday's cabinet meeting agreed to step up the Government’s preparations for a no-deal Brexit on March 29. As part of those plans, 80,000 emails are being distributed to businesses and business groups to provide advice about no-deal planning. A 100-page advice guide will also be available online to provide firms with information about what they need to do.

With Christmas less than a week away, businesses in our region already have enough on their plate. However, they should not turn a blind eye and ignore the Government’s advice.

This is not a game, and with Theresa May adamant that the United Kingdom will be leaving the European Union at the end of March, time is running out.

There will be an inevitable temptation to hope for the best, but the worst-case scenario also has to be considered. Businesses have to be ready for whatever lies in store.